By Dr. Madhavi Vemireddy, co-founder and COO, CareTribe.
Millions of Americans live with chronic health conditions every day, sometimes even debilitating or disabling health conditions. When our physical health fails, it inadvertently impacts every facet of our lives: social, financial, interpersonal, as well as professional. As a result, millions of Americans are enlisted to support their loved ones struggling with their health each year. Within the healthcare industry, we refer to the former as “family caregivers ” and the latter as “care recipients.”
Today, more than 53 million Americans can be described as family caregivers.
Family caregivers commonly find themselves scrambling to solve problems for their afflicted loved one, often at the expense of their job, their family, and friends, and sometimes even their own physical and/or mental wellbeing. The average American caregiver spends four years or more in the role of a caregiver, spending approximately 24 hours per week dedicated to supporting their loved one with their out-of-pocket spending as a caregiver costing on average more than $7,000 per year.
Unfortunately, caregivers typically find themselves providing this level of care for a loved one with very little expert support. Usually, caregivers tap into their network of friends and family members for advice or assistance. Because of the chronic stress that the role of caregiving brings, caregivers are twice as likely to suffer from adverse health effects like depression, hypertension, diabetes, pulmonary disease, and other ailments–all while carrying the responsibility of caregiving for their loved one.
Creating a Community Centered on Caregiving
These reasons are why my husband and I founded CareTribe to support the millions of Americans struggling to support their loved ones who are afflicted with chronic health conditions, the ramifications of those conditions, and the impact they hold on the overall quality of life for both care recipients and caregivers alike.
In creating CareTribe, our mission was to provide family caregivers with an innovative technology platform driven by artificial intelligence (AI) that combines condition specific pathways, relevant benefits, curated products and resources, and human experts to provide personalized support, regardless of what stage caregivers are at in their journey to assist their loved ones.
Artificial intelligence is transforming the healthcare industry – it is creating opportunities that have been never thought possible while opening up the realm of new possibilities beyond human capabilities.
Powered by increasing availability of healthcare data and advances in machine learning, artificial intelligence aims to mimic human cognitive functions, assisting physicians to make better clinical decisions or even replace human judgement in certain functional areas of healthcare. A major part of AI involves the use sophisticated algorithms to ‘learn’ features from a large volume of healthcare data, and then use the obtained insights to assist clinical practice. It can also be equipped with learning and self-correcting abilities to improve its accuracy based on feedback. It can assist physicians by providing up-to-date medical information from journals, textbooks and clinical practices which can help to reduce diagnostic and therapeutic errors that are inevitable in the human clinical practice.
Here are some recent advances of artificial intelligence in practical use.
Cardiac Intervention “Mapping” the heart and, in many cases, mapping the signal of the heart allows physicians to understand specific problems before deciding on a solution. Taking arrhythmia as an example, by using AI, you can use the mapping to get much clearer understanding of what is the exact problem that causes the irregular heartbeat. Another example involves planning interventions with a catheter. Mapping provides the exact anatomical structure of the arteries so you make decisions on the exact kind of catheter to be used and the exact behavior of the arteries at the specific point where you have to do the intervention. Mapping usually occurs prior to an operation but sometimes it can be used during the operation itself, when you have images from the fluoroscopy; then you can do analysis of the images and get precise information about the location and the structure of the arteries.
Spinal Surgery This is a very interesting and challenging application where you have to be very precise, especially when you are putting in screws into the vertebrae. Precision cannot be gained very easily just by what the surgeon sees because, in many cases, it’s a percutaneous procedure. It’s difficult to see exactly where the vertebra line up. Artificial intelligence assists in the navigation by utilizing pre-op scanning, along with information provided by the x-ray in the operating room. Algorithms can combine those two sources of information which allows the surgeon to accurately navigate to the exact point of insertion.
This also holds true for hip or knee replacement. Using AI algorithms, during the planning phase, you can decide on a specific implant that will be for a particular patient. Mapping also provides very good segmentation of the bones prior to the operation. This helps avoid doing generic work with an implant that might not fully fit the knee or hip and the patient will suffer from future problems.